A qualified Chemical Engineer, Niyati is extremely passionate about nature and cultural heritage. She chose to go with her passion for traveling and was a founder member of Soar Excursions, a Gujarat based travel operator. Niyati’s passions are the varied cultures, architecture and social history of the regions of India. She leads special tours for groups with diverse interests such as textiles, monuments and indigenous communities and has a deep interest in social justice movements, cultural heritage, and conservation of the environment. She has lead many experiential learning programmes for several American schools.
- Who you are (naturally!)
A collector of hobbies. I like exploring new ventures and taking up different challenges that push my comfort zone and make me learn about new things.
- What inspired you to create your business?
I didn’t want to spend my life doing one thing (being a chemical engineer). I wanted to explore more. My business gives me ample opportunities to travel and see India in a different light.
- An anecdote which epitomizes your India?
The tribals in South Gujarat singing traditional songs and dancing around a saree clad goddess style statue of Mariam mata (mother Mary) after recent conversion to Christianity.
An arranged gay marriage bureau for people who defy heteronormative marriage but still conform to arranged marriage norms of caste and socio economic standards.
- One thing that you can’t live without?
- One thing that you hate?
The layered hypocrisy of Indian society.
- If you could change one thing about India what would it be?
Casteism and growing religious extremism
- Who is your greatest inspiration?
- What is your favourite quote?
“Empowered women empower women”
- I have noticed huge changes in India over the last few years but what is the biggest change you have noticed in India over the last 10 years?
Digital revolution and connectivity
- What do you think are the biggest challenges India faces over the next ten years?
Management of plastic waste, accessible education, rural healthcare, etc.
- Which is the destination at the top of your bucket list?
Samarkand and the entire Silk Route
- What is the one place you visited that you have NO desire to return to?
Times Square in New York
- Book or Movie?
Book, always book.
- Just for fun! I am doing a survey to find India’s most popular breakfast, what is yours?
Poha batata (rice flakes, onion and potato)
- In retrospect, what is the one thing you wish you could have told your 20 year-old self?
Have confidence in your abilities and stand by your opinions even when they are not majoritarian views.
Visit the Soar Excursions website for more details on the specialist tours they organise in Gujarat and beyond